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Lance Corporal DAVID RUSSELL

Service Number: 30169
Regiment & Unit/Ship

New Zealand Infantry

22nd (Motor) Bn.

Date of Death

Died 28 February 1945

Age 34 years old

Buried or commemorated at

UDINE WAR CEMETERY

IV. D. 2.

Italy

  • Country of Service New Zealand
  • Awards George Cross
  • Additional Info Son of James and Jessie Russell, of Corsehill, Ayrshire.
  • Additional Citation note

    An extract taken from the "London Gazette" records the following: "Like so many other escaped prisoners-of-war, Lance-Corporal Russell had obtained civilian clothes and was living with an Italian peasant, Giuseppe Vettorello. He was well-known and liked by the people of the locality. According to Giuseppe Vettorello, Lance-Corporal Russell maintained contact with a number of other ex-prisoners-of-war, visiting them regularly by bicyle. On about 22nd February, 1945, Lance-Corporal Russell was arrested by a patrol of Italian Fascist troops near the house of Giuseppe Vettorello. Giuseppe Vettorello himself was arrested on suspicion of having harboured Lance-Corporal Russell. Their captors were members of a mixed German-Italian police regiment. The prisoners were taken to the Compay Headquarters of Oberleutnant Haupt at Ponte di Piave. Here an attempt was made to force Lance-Corporal Russell to betray Giuseppe Vettorello, but he refused to do so, denying that he had ever seen him before. According to an Italian soldier who was present, Lance-Corporal Russell was beaten up by Haupt, but maintained his silence. Thanks to Lance-Corporal Russell's loyalty, Giuseppe Vettorello was released. The Germans were evidently convinced that Lance-Corporal Russell had been in contact with other ex-prisoners-of-war and Partisans, and were determined that he should disclose their whereabouts. He was chained to a wall in a stable, and told that, unless he gave the required information within three days, he would be shot. Again, on the testimony of two Italians who were present, Lance-Corporal Russell was beaten up, but he resolutely refused to speak. A civilian who took him food tried to persuade him to save his life, but he replied, 'Let them shoot me'. Haupt's interpreter, an Italian says: 'The behaviour of the Englishman was splendid, and it won the admiration of Haupt himself'. On the third day Lance-Corporal Russell was shot. The German warrant officer who witnessed the execution, says: 'The prisoner died very bravely'. There can be be no doubt whatsoever that Lance-Corporal Russell in the midst of his enemies and in the face of death, bore himself with courage and dignity of a very high order."

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Buried or commemorated at